Professor David Engerman: ‘Americans in particular view "Cold War culture" as repressive - and don't really have much understanding of soviet life. Yet both societies shared responsibility for the Cold War’
On October 17-19, 2013 the international conference ‘Social and Human Sciences on Both Sides of the “Iron Curtain”’ organized by the HSE Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities is being held in Moscow.
This international conference is intended to put together research findings on the history of social and human sciences in the capitalist West and the socialist East during the second half of the 20th century. The HSE news service talked to two participants about the conference about their expectations and suggestions for reading.
David Engerman, Professor of History at Brandeis University (USA) is delivering a paper ‘A Mecca for Economists and Planners’: Pilgrimages to Nehruvian India at the second plenary session. He told the news service about a new western approach to understanding soviet life during the Cold War.
David Engerman :
— It's fascinating to understand how much our predecessors knew about their own time - we like to think of ourselves as superior, yet earlier social scientists had a keener understanding of their societies than we often think. This is especially true of our views of Soviet scholars. Westerners at the time - and many since - view Soviet scholars as bland parrots of party lines. But for as much outside pressures as they faced, soviet scholars were effective expressing complex ideas using the limited ideological language available to them in publications.
I think it's important for youth today to move past pure blame and discrediting of the Cold War. Americans in particular view "Cold War culture" as repressive - and don't really have much understanding of soviet life. Yet both societies shared responsibility for the Cold War, which emerged not just from the differences between the US and the USSR but also from some of their commonalities.’
Irina Morozova, from Humboldt University of Berlin who will speak in the Cold War historiographies section about ‘Central Asian intertwine of nationality, religion and democracy in the ‘hall of mirrors’ of Western and Soviet historiographies (1950-1980)’ says that the thing that fascinates her most in this area is the ‘comparative history of decolonisation in Asia and the Orient and the impact of global geopolitics on the deconstruction of socialism’. She recommended the following books for anyone interested in the topic of her talk;
P. van de Veer, Imperial Encounters. Religion and Modernity in India and Britain (Princeton and Oxford 2001).
M. Werner, B. Zimmermann, ‘Beyond Comparison: Histoire croisee and the Challenge of Reflexivity’, History and Theory 45 (2006) 30-50
D.F. Eickelman and J. Piscatori, Muslim Politics (Princeton 1996)
This is the first time Irina has taken part in an HSE conference and she hopes to develop other forms of cooperation with colleagues in the field.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service
Alexandra Kolesnik, Junior Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer at HSE’s Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities recently completed her post graduate studies in History and successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled ‘Historical representations in British popular musical culture of the 1960-1980s’. Here, Alexandra talks about her research into modern pop-culture.
Jessica Werneke, who completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa and her PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, joined the International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and its Consequences as a Research Fellow in 2016. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, she has spent a considerable amount of time living internationally – in both the UK and Latvia – and following her post-doc plans to start a new position as a Newton International Fellow of the British Academy at Loughborough University, where she will continue her research on Soviet photography clubs and amateur photographers in the RSFSR and the Baltic Republics.
The October Revolution created a new cinema. At first, 'the most important of all arts' struggled to keep up with social transformations and was not yet used as a weapon in the fight for a communist culture. But the mid-1920s, an innovative, cutting-edge film industry had emerged from sources such as theatre, street performance, posters, poetry and circus shows. This industry was able to do what the politicians had failed to achieve, namely trigger a world revolution.
On October 11, Professor Dominic Lieven of the University of Cambridge, where he serves as Senior Research Fellow, Trinity College, gave a public lecture at HSE St Petersburg entitled ‘Reflections on empire, Russia and historical comparison’. The event was organized by the Center for Historical Research.
A hundred years has passed since the October Revolution of 1917, but this event still hasn’t reached its logical conclusion. Its consequences are still crucial in defining the political system in Russia today and fostering divisions in society, believes Andrey Medushevsky, Professor at the HSE Faculty of Social Sciences, political scientist, historian and author of the book A Political History of the Russian Revolution: Norms, Institutions and Forms of Social Mobilization in the 20th Century.
Department of History at HSE St. Petersburg is focusing on a global, comparative and transnational approach to historical studies, and cooperates with several European and American research centers. One of its primary partners is German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which sponsors a position of an Associate Professor for a German scholar, and Dietmar Wulff, the current resident, told The HSE Look about his three years at the department and plans for the future.
On October 10, Stephen Wheatcroft, Professor of the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne delivered a lecture on ‘The importance of the grain problem in the Russian Revolution and for the next 40 years of Soviet Economics' at HSE Moscow as part of a long and busy schedule. A participant at previous April Conferences at HSE, Professor Wheatcroft is one of the world’s foremost experts on Soviet social, economic and demographic history, as well as famine and food supply problems in modern world history.
Samrat Sil is a recent graduate of the English-taught Master's programme in Applied and Interdisciplinary History ‘Usable Pasts’ at HSE St. Petersburg. David Datmar, a native of Ghana, decided to join the programme to help him prepare for eventual study at the PhD level, which he plans to undertake soon at the University of Oxford. Both gentlemen were recently awarded certificates of recognition for their role as ambassadors contributing to the university’s internationalization agenda.
International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences, Higher School of Economics and The Friedrich Ebert Foundation held 'A Memory Revolution’: Soviet History Through the Lens of Personal Documents' in Moscow on 7-8 June, 2017. The conference brought together distinguished historians and sociologists from across the globe. Michael David-Fox, Professor of History, Georgetown University, and Academic Advisor of HSE International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences shares his reflections and considerations on the main topic and discussions at the conference and his own research
On May 31, Valerie Kivelson, Professor of History at the University of Michigan, will be delivering a seminar entitled ‘Visualizing Empire: Muscovite Images of Race’. Professor Kivelson is an expert in Medieval and early modern Russia, history of cartography, history of witchcraft, religion, and political culture, among other topics. She is the author of 'Desperate Magic: The Moral Economy of Witchcraft in Seventeenth Century Russia' and a guest editor of 'Witchcraft Casebook: Magic in Russia, Poland and Ukraine. 15-21st Centuries'.